"I'd rather be seen on my bicycle than on a park run" - Quote from the dark side

Thursday, 28 August 2014

So what happened to the genes?

I've often been asked if my dad passed any of his running genes on to me. I suppose people wonder why I am such a slow runner compared to him. What happened to the genes?

Well, I did get some of them. In the mid 1980's my dad was tested by the sports institute of SA. They did some muscle strength tests and also the VO2 max tests and so on. He was called back not once, but twice, because they thought something was wrong with the tests or their equipment. He tested that high...

"Your dad has numbers Fordyce can only dream of..." was the comment. The reference was to Bruce Fordyce, the Comrades king. Apparently the test results were incredible. So they did test me as well.

Bruce Fordyce

My muscle strength and endurance was very high. Higher than my dad's but I was young then... :) Apparently I have very strong leg muscles and my endurance is also very good. Where I fall off the bus is the V02 max and the reason is somewhat scary.

I was born with a very mild case of Pectus ExcavatumPectus excavatum, also known as sunken or hollow chest, is a congenital chest wall deformity in which several ribs and the sternum grow abnormally, producing a concave, or caved-in, appearance in the anterior chest wall.

Although mine is very, very mild it is still enough to give me limited lung capacity and therefore a very low V02 max. My heart is also pressed flat by my sternum and is a flat, round shape.

All of this explains why I always had to train 100 times more and harder than others to reach a specific fitness level. It also explains why my best times could never match those of my dad.

I am a very dedicated runner and always put in the necessary effort in my training. I train harder and more than most. But I will never be able to run very fast.

My best times (when I was in my 30's) compared to my dad's (when he was in in his 50's):

Me (when I was in my 30’s)
Dad (when he was in his 50’s)
10km – 47:13
10km – 37:15
15km – 01:11
15km – 57:19
21.1km – 01:41:07 (half marathon)
21.1km – 01:22:45
32km – 02:45 (20 miles)
32km – 02:15
42.2km – 03:49 (marathon)
42.2km – 03:09
50km – 04:54
50km – 03:46
56km – 05:23
56km – 04:10
Comrades – 10:41
Comrades – 09:08
100km – 11:34
100km – 10:32

The above numbers say it all. I had to work just as hard and sometimes even harder to achieve my PB's. I am very proud of my times in the table above.

My endurance is great though and I can definitely thank my dad for that and the good leg muscles. I think I did get some of those genes...


One Crazy Penguin said...

I feel that it speaks very highly of you that you have to work twice as hard to achieve your numbers. Very admirable and very impressive :)

Tina @GottaRunNow said...

Endurance and leg muscles will keep us going strong!

misszippy said...

This is so interesting! You both have your strengths and you are both fantastic runners--I'm sure you've made him proud over the years!

Jill said...

That's pretty cool stuff! You got the heart, that's what matters most. :)

(it is interesting because you and are are pretty equivalent PR-wise...but you're faster than me in the half marathon(1:43) and me faster in the full marathon (3:42)...but I raced a lot of road marathons back in the day).

coach dion said...

You are lucky your dad ran... and you have times to aim at! Other than my brother-in-law and wife none of my family run.

That said my sister's kid is looking like he might be a runner!

Amy said...

Wow! That is very interesting - I never realized things like that could make such a difference. Thank goodness you got his strong legs!

ajh said...

Both you and your dad are amazing! Your endurance is not something anyone could deny.

Anonymous said...

Interesting post and hats off to both of your commitment and hard work! On the end, consistent training matters more than genes, which is best demonstrated by the super star Kenyan runners, who can clock 2-hour-marathons when training, but upon stopping and gaining weight, don't even jog around the block anymore...

Char said...

You've made a lot of what you've got. Which is all that any of us can do.

Liz said...

Wow, I didn't know your Dad was a great runner, that's fantastic! I was already impressed by your running achievements, now even more so. Hard work pays off!

Giorgio said...

That comparison is impressive in terms of speed. Anyway, you and your father have different running features.